By Community Submission
Jan 10, 2016

Charles Dahlquist on why the Church sticks with Scouting, and so does he

Charles Dahlquist, former LDS Young Men General President

Charles Dahlquist, former LDS Young Men General President

Because of my former service as Young Men General President for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and my continuing association with Scouting, I am often asked, especially recently, about the relationship of Scouting and the Church.

Recently, I had that conversation with a good friend and one of my former counselors in a ward Young Men presidency, Eric Dowdle.

Many know Eric as a well-known Utah artist and “The King of Folk Art Puzzles.”  I saw Eric during our most recent annual pilgrimage to Swiss Days in Midway.  In addition to being a good friend, Eric has been a great supporter of Scouting over the years and was and is an enthusiastic youth leader.  He was obviously concerned about the future of the partnership between the LDS Church and Scouting and asked my opinion.

We need Scouting now more than ever

Eric Dowdle explains why we need Scouting (click here)

May I share some of the thoughts that I shared with him.  Perhaps it will help you as you may have some of the same concerns that Eric expressed to me—or know someone who does.

Eric’s first question was an obvious one: 

“Is the Church going to stay with Scouting?”

And while I don’t profess to be clairvoyant or to know everything, there are a couple of things that I DO know:

First, the most recent statement by the LDS Church was a clear indication that the relationship between Scouting and the Church as a charter partner continues.  The statement given on August 26, 2015 stated in pertinent part:

“At this time, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will go forward as a chartering organization of BSA, and as in the past, will appoint Scout leaders and volunteers who uphold and exemplify Church doctrine, values, and standards.”

That position (and wording) was reinforced by Young Men General President Stephen Owen at a recent gathering of Scouters from the BSA Western Region in Salt Lake City.


Copy of BSA first charter to any group. The LDS Church was Scouting’s first charter partner.

At least to me, it seems clear that the Church is ‘in Scouting.”  While there are some who seem to get hung up on the term “…at this time…,” that seems a little thin to me.  Those words, while not previously spoken or specifically written, have always been understood – from the very beginning.

In 1913, Scouting was approved by the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve to be the activity program of the Aaronic Priesthood because it supported the values of the priesthood and helped young men to more fully develop the character values that would be important for them to be successful leaders in their families, in the Church, in their professions and in the community; and, in each of those roles, to more fully magnify their priesthood.  Just as importantly, as they learned leadership skills in patrols and troops, they would more fully understand the strength, impact and potential power of a priesthood quorum.

President Harold B. Lee, in a Scouting setting in June 1968, gave this wise instruction – and warning — to all involved with Scouting in the Aaronic Priesthood.

“May I say to you:  Scouting will be successful in this Church only as it relates to and maintains a definite relationship with the Aaronic Priesthood.  May I put it in a negative way and say that when Scouting fails to be the activity program for the priesthood, it will cease to be a functioning part of the Church program…The more our Church relationships representatives understand that, from the head of this Aaronic Priesthood right down to the grassroots in the wards and the stakes and the branches, the more perfectly we will begin to define that relationship and the more successful and acceptable Scouting will be.”

It has been my experience that what President Lee said nearly a half a century ago is true—and prophetic.  When local priesthood leaders get involved in the work of the Aaronic Priesthood, including Scouting, the work of the Aaronic Priesthood thrives, including Duty to God, missionary preparation, quorum service and quorum strength, individual worthiness and preparation for temple marriages.  When they do not, it normally results in a number of well-meaning parents and leaders who love the youth struggling to make the program work.

I have watched this not only on a local level, but an area level as well.  When Elder Merrill Bateman, formerly of the Presidency of the Seventy, was given the assignment to supervise the Utah Area of the Church, he asked the Young Men General Presidency and the Local Utah Scouting Councils to provide a report on what Scouting was doing to strengthen the Aaronic Priesthood and to help prepare strong missionaries; and to identify the concerns and challenges, as well as a plan to resolve those concerns.

That report and the plan were presented by the three Utah Scout Executives to Elder Bateman, who then considered the proposals and gave specific direction to strengthen Scouting and, thus, the quorums of the Aaronic Priesthood in the Utah Area.  I was interested to note that his direction was clear, compelling, inspired and included both the need to increase the training of Young Men leaders in Scouting principles, as well as steps to increase the tenure (length of service) of Young Men leaders.  As a result of his direction and focus, tenure of leaders and the level of training increased significantly.

In response to those who seem to see more in the statement of the Church than really exists, I recall that Elder LeGrand Richards once gave a talk in a setting where I was in attendance.  He said,

“It has been my experience that it is wisdom to stay with the Brethren—don’t lag behind them, and don’t try to get ahead of them.”

Then, he went on to explain that many who have lagged behind the teaching and policies of the Brethren have fallen into inactivity and their testimonies of the restored Gospel have winnowed away; while those who have tried to “get a jump on the Brethren” and to anticipate where the Brethren (and the Church) were going, were languishing among those who had left the Church when the Church did not follow their suppositions and premonitions.

scout deacon biggerMy second point:  I have always believed that the responsibility is on national and local Scouting leaders to provide the “best” option for the Aaronic Priesthood activity program; and on local priesthood, Young Men and Scouting leaders to implement that program in a way that impacts the lives of the rising generation—in ALL families of Scouting:  Cub Scout, Boy Scout, Varsity and Venturing.

If the program fails to meet the needs of the Aaronic Priesthood, I believe it will not be because of the strength of the program, but of the failure of leaders on both sides of the partnership in failing to fulfill their responsibilities.

Just look at Scouting today.  Its program, its leadership training (for youth and adults), its youth protection effort, its merit badge/personal growth program, and its newly revised Venturing program are more relevant to the needs of today’s youth than ever before.  It is just up to us to make it work, to get trained and work the program.  Just take a moment to look at the program aspects of Scouting—in all families of Scouting.  I personally have yet to see a better program for building youth who are prepared to face the challenges of the future than Scouting.

Eric also asked me about the wording in the Church’s statement about “…the Church will continue to evaluate and refine program options that better meet its global needs.”

While I may be missing something, again, to me that is really no change in the program or policy of the Church at all.  As I have traveled throughout the world, I have observed a significant need for a vibrant activity program for the Aaronic Priesthood outside the United States—much like we have in the United States through our partnership with Scouting.

In response to that need, in some areas of the world, Scouting units have sprung up in affiliation with LDS Church units—generally as a result of missionaries serving in those areas who have been involved in Scouting or, in the alternative, local members of the Church who have served in the United States or elsewhere where there are viable Scouting programs and who have returned to their home country and brought the Scouting program with them.

It is not surprising to me that in those areas of the Church where these Scouting programs supplement the program of the Aaronic Priesthood, the youth are, for the most part, stronger and better prepared for missionary service. That having been said, it follows that, with more members of the Church outside the USA than inside, it is critical for the Church to develop a youth program that will meet the needs of those outside the United States and to continue to review and improve the programs inside the United States.

As I have noted in the quote by President Lee in 1969, it stands to reason that if there ever came a point, either domestically or internationally, where Scouting fails to meet the needs of the Aaronic Priesthood, it would be a time for the Church to look for another option.

As a summarizing point, in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we serve under the direction of a living prophet, who is assisted by two noble and inspired counselors and twelve members of the Council of the Twelve.  While it is true that if their direction were to point elsewhere other than Scouting as the activity program of the Aaronic Priesthood, we would follow; it follows that that is NOT their direction.

The message is clear that the over 100 year partnership between the Church and the Boy Scouts of America continues to this day to touch the lives of young men of the Aaronic Priesthood throughout those areas of the world where the Boy Scouts of America are organized.

The charge for each of us is to not fritter away our efforts trying to second guess the Brethren, but to use this time to more effectively understand this wonderful resource we have in Scouting; to become better trained than ever before, including basic and Wood Badge training; to provide appropriate financial and personnel support to Scouting; and to apply the principles we learn to strengthen the young men of the Aaronic Priesthood and their quorums.

With our young men now being able to enter the mission field at age 18, they must be better prepared in every way than ever before:  spiritually, mentally, emotionally and physically.  Scouting within the Aaronic Priesthood provides us with ideal tools, when appropriately utilized under the direction of inspired Priesthood leaders, to help prepare them for such missionary service; for temple marriage; for success in the Church, in the community and in their professions; and, in a word, for Life.

May God bless each of us that we may move ahead and use this wonderful resource to prepare the Rising Generation among us—for life, and for eternity.
Charles W. Dahlquist

Author: Charles Dahlquist | Past Young Men General President for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

37 thoughts on “Charles Dahlquist on why the Church sticks with Scouting, and so does he

  1. AvatarKendell

    Thank you Charles Dahlquist for putting into words my feelings on the matter. You said it better than I ever could. You are a great example and I hope to hear your opinion and comments more often.

  2. Pingback: Charles Dahlquist on why the Church sticks with Scouting, and so does he – Scouting in the OC

  3. AvatarKen Krogue

    I think that the scouts need the church more than ever, and the church needs scouting more than ever. I would hate to shift down a gear or two in support of scouting and lessen the impact on young men and young women in the programs right now. Scouting works when we work it, and inspired leaders who work the program change the lives of youth, now more than ever before. You never crossed the ocean if you jump ship half way…

  4. AvatarM B

    Our experience in our area has been that the scout program is more worried about collecting money than providing a good experience for the boys. The camps run by the official scout program are much more expensive while providing inferior options and service. Camp options outside of official scout camps have provided multiple times more opportunities for a fraction of the cost.

    1. AvatarTony Cox

      Our experience has been the opposite here in San Antonio, TX. Our local BSA camp — Bear Creek — costs about $300/boy/week. There are a number of commercial and Non-LDS church camps in the same vicinity that cost between $1200-$2700 per youth per week. Although these other camps have air-conditioned cabins and other “amenities,” our young men and young men leaders learn that they can live and thrive just fine in the outdoors. Further, Bear Creek has plenty of fun for any scout for a week — swimming, boating, shooting, handicrafts, zipline, and all the basic MB opportunities. Obviously, others may have different experiences with their Council camps. However, as Bro. Dahlquist points out, if you’re having issues with the local BSA camps, it’s not time to disengage, but time to engage by getting involved in your Council and making your voice(s) heard. While BSA has to stay in the black (as any business does), we (the packs, troops, teams, and crews) not only are its biggest customers, we can also sit on its leadership boards and make a real difference for the youth.

    2. AvatarWW

      I would be very curious to hear the cost of your program that seems so excessive to you.
      It has been my experience that some people want everything for nothing, especially where scouting is concerned.

  5. AvatarJuan Allred

    I believe in scouting. I am a sustaining member and I have 2 sons that are Eagle scouts and I know it has helped them in their lives to be more productive in their occupations. I also have some grand children that are Eagle scouts also and it has and is helping them. As stated; the success of the program depends on the leaders. I am not an Eagle scout. The leaders I had, 60 years ago, did not work with my group and the achieving of Eagle scouts was not very successful.

  6. AvatarTennys

    Thank you Charles Dahlquist! I especially appreciated the quote you shared from Elder LeGrand Richards:

    “It has been my experience that it is wisdom to stay with the Brethren—don’t lag behind them, and don’t try to get ahead of them.”

    I don’t need to worry about anything or spend my time thinking about “what if…” I simply need to make sure that I am aligned with the prophet and church leaders. The church supports scouting therefore I do! Scouting has had a powerful influence for good in the lives of my sons, my husband and even myself.

  7. AvatarSusan Harmon

    Thank you for this clear explanation. We need to follow the brethren and not second guess their decisions. Follow the Prophet. He will not lead us astray.

  8. AvatarBob Gowans

    I believe the Scouting program does a lot more for our young men that most of us realize or consider.
    Scouting servers even those who consistently resist it by reminding us all of the importance of outdoor experiences in the lives of our youth. If the church left scouting and that regular reminder of getting out camping with the youth was no longer in front of us I fear that these camping and outdoor experiences would virtually go away. Suddenly there would not be a push to get out into the mountains, the incentive to earn an award or achieve a rank would be gone.
    Leaders would no longer need to feel guilty for not taking their boys camping any longer and camping for all intense and purposes would go away. How many of our Young Women’s program go camping more than once a year? Yet over and over again I hear them say “I wish we could go do the things the boys do”.
    What would become of the relationships between a boy and his quality leaders which are built on those stormy nights in the mountains or around the campfire looking heavenward at the night sky or standing on the edge of a high mountain pass overlooking the grandeur of God’s creation?
    If nothing else, Scouting provides us that regular camping experience. And as a bonus we can choose to take advantage of everything else Scouting has to offer: Preparing young men to serve and do their duty to God, build faith and confidence in themselves and others, inviting others in their neighborhood to attend, and open opportunities to be physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.
    I like to remember the verse in 1 Nephi 17:7 “And it came to pass that after I, Nephi, had been in the land of Bountiful for the space of many days, the voice of the Lord came unto me, saying: Arise, and get thee into the mountain. And it came to pass that I arose and went up into the mountain, and cried unto the Lord. And it came to pass that the Lord spake unto me”

    1. AvatarAngela

      As a mother of 8 sons who are ages 1-21, I am in the trenches. I have two eagle scouts, one life scout, one first class scout, and one webelo cub scout. For me, scouting means many many weekends of campouts that steal from my family time. It means a very large, constant to-do list that is created by some person in an office that knows nothing about the needs of my particular family. It means cajoling reluctant middle schoolers to fill out merit badge worksheets. As a mother of sons, it means giving up weekend after weekend for boys to go on scouting activities that steal from my family time. That’s time that I sacrifice so that they can earn things like camping merit badges. It’s time that I would like to use for family campouts, but by the time each of these 8 boys is 12 or 13 years old, that equates to 16 years of giving 10-15 nights a year to campouts. That is 20% of the weekends in every year. And it isn’t just that one night. Those boys come home tired! One night turns into entire an entire weekend of overtired boys. I resent having that time stolen from me. I hate the number of family dinners, Saturday morning chore times, and lost vacation times that scouting steals. Camping is just one example, but it serves to show the huge time commitment that isn’t really justified. I’ve grown tired of the assumption that those running the scouting program have the best vision for my sons. Really? How does that support family life? We’re afraid that boys won’t go camping anymore, so we force everyone to go with their scout troop? That seems high handed.
      I guess I think that my husband and I are just visionary enough, just creative enough, just capable enough to give my sons what they need without feeling like I have to sacrifice our children on the scouting altar. Unfortunately, I think those of us who have an opinion about this get branded as being disobedient or scout-haters. I don’t hate scouting at all. My boys have learned lots of great things. I just wish it would become a more family-friendly organization, especially when we, as a church, are partnering with it. The way it stands today seems, in practice, to be antithetical to happiness in family life.

      1. AvatarWayne Mangelson

        Hello Angela, I can certainly empathize with you. What a labor of love and devotion you are providing. I am very familiar with many of your concerns with my own family experience of six brothers, three sons, and other large families among our relatives. I see and feel your conflicts. Should this concern about a proper balance be discussed with your bishop and young men leaders? Perhaps you have done this already.

      2. AvatarSteve Faber

        I don’t recall “force” being an element of either the scout oath or law. Advancement and camping are but only two of the Scouting methods. Too much or too little emphasis on one method can cause imbalance, and undesirable consequences. Filling out merit badge worksheets is not a scouting method either, just have a look at the MB requirements, they say nothing about mindlessly filling out worksheets, but they are filled with action words like “tell”, “demonstrate”, and “show”, etc. The worksheets can be useful for the scout to take notes, but they are not required, as sometimes the BYU and other MB powwows make them seem to be.

        On the bright side, it sounds like yours is an exceptional unit if they actually camp ten to fifteen nights a year, not many units can say that. I would not think that a scout committee that lives by the scout oath and law, along with COR support, would take issue with any concerns you’ve listed, and could work to find solutions, and could also easily find a place for your experience on the scout committee.

        1. AvatarAngela

          My husband is on the scout committee and I am asst. cubmaster. Are you suggesting that we stop worrying about advancement? I guess I never considered that. I guess our unit is pretty well organized. Mostly, I would just like to stop feeling like the boys can’t do things in my family and have it “count.” We go camping, but it can’t count as a camping night because it has to be with the troop. We have been told that we really shouldn’t act as merit badge counselors for our own sons because they need to work with other people. My husband is a merit badge counselor for a number of merit badges, but we have gotten the impression that he can’t pass off our sons’ requirements. Maybe the real problem is the myriad ways that the scouting program is interpreted.

          1. AvatarSteve Faber

            Stop worrying about advancement? Maybe. Maybe just less worry. Or perhaps it’s looking at advancement in a different light that shines on ALL of the methods of scouting, focusing on the scouting method(s) that help the boy become who he’s supposed to be at that time in his life.

            I know how you feel with camping nights that “count” or not, and I think it’s a topic for another blog, but, I’ve got a similar hangup with technically not being able to count the 5 nights of camping at Timberline NYLT that our boys attend for a week, they’re only supposed to be able to count the 5 days they spend at summer camp that.

            Who cares if it family camping does not “count” with the BSA. It’s your family, GO CAMPING! And do it without any guilt! He’s your son, and as his parents, you know best on how to help grow. Besides, in your well-run program that camps at least 10 nights a year, your boy is going to have plenty of opportunities to go camping with the troop, if he’s motivated to camp.

            And, who cares what your mis-informed adult scout leaders think about who should and should not be a MB counselor. Association with other adults is a method of scouting, but it’s not the ONLY method! Absolutely be MB counselor’s, for your own boys! Who better to learn from and share real-world experiences with than you as his parents!

            I think you nailed a possible cause of this challenge: how scouting is interpreted. I think the cause might stem from a few things, including apathy and a lack of Adult leader training. But possibly more importantly is a lack of unity, patience and love in our LDS units with relation to scouting (see Elder Leavitt’s comments in this blog post at

      3. AvatarTony Cox

        Like Wayne, I too understand your concern. Hopefully, you and/or your husband are active on the Pack/Troop/Team/Crew Committee(s). That is really the place to raise your concern and work for change. As a parent, you are ultimately responsible for raising your family as you are inspired to do so. Each boy/family is different, and each has different needs. We’ve had some single parent mom’s in our area who have been ecstatic that there have been lots of scouting and YM activities, because they felt that their boys needed more time with adult males since they did not have a father in the home. Others feel differently. The key is to work together as a troop committee (which includes the scoutmaster) and plan an activity intensity level that meets the needs of the boys in your unit. It’s also okay to acknowledge that others may need/want more, while you and your family want/need less activity. Just let the leaders know your concerns, know what activities they can count on you/your boys attending, and what you want to waive. They should work with you. Finally, I would just add that scouting really is and should be a family affair. Cub Scouting LOVES having moms and dads involved, and as a YM/Scout leader, I ALWAYS highly encourage the dads in my ward/stake to attend campouts with their boys. To me, getting the fathers out with their sons is a super important thing. Not only does it give sons an opportunity to work with their dads, but often the fathers have few opportunities to talk and share with other males. On our campouts, the adult leaders and fathers usually end up at some point sitting around a late night campfire or having opportunities to walk together during a hike and share things that they don’t have time/opportunity to during our modern work, family, and church lives. These are precious times, when getting to know a dad, hearing his thoughts and feelings about important issues on his mind, and offering empathy and sometimes counsel, can be as important as anything we do with a boy. For those dads who cannot join us in the outdoors — health concerns, etc. — we try to engage them in other ways so they can spend time with their sons as much as possible. Moms are vital — and always will be the most important person in a boy’s life; but adolescence is an important time for boys to bond with their fathers and to learn from them and other adult males how to grow into good and faithful men.

        1. AvatarAngela

          My husband has been a YM counselor, YM president, and member of a bishopric responsible for scouting–COR. He is currently on the scout committee and I am an asst. cubmaster, but our experience has been that the scouting traditions, or the scouting machine, if you will, is just too big to change. The ways of doing things are much too entrenched, and there is no room for change. I have seen the problem of many families just giving up because they cannot navigate the program, and they don’t have the support to do so. I live in an area where there is an expectation that boys will finish their eagle by 14 because after they leave Deacons, there is no support and parents and boys really have to work hard to finish those last few things. We go from a great scouting program where they finish 80%, to teachers quorum where there is no continuity, and the last 20% is rough going.

          Finally, when you have 8 children, having just mom and one scout involved, or dad and one scout involved is not a family affair. That is the problem. By the time mom is involved with one kid for his cub scouts, and dad is involved with one son for his campouts, there are plenty of times when our family is busy 4 nights a week, but not busy together. I suspect that the size of our family makes us different from others.

          1. AvatarLee

            It sounds like a part of the problem is that your ward thinks Scouting is a thing for the deacons only, and then they play basketball (or something else) for YM as teachers and priests. In my troop, few got their Eagle before 16, and we were involved until we were 18. I passed my Eagle board of review the month I turned 16, but continued on and earned three palms. Several of my friends did the same. Spreading things out takes a lot of the pressure off the boys, leaders, and the family. When I had campouts, my mom dropped me off at the gathering point, and that was all she really had to do. I packed my gear and if I forgot something, that was my problem. It sounds like you stress a little too much b/c you are doing things that the Scout should do himself. My first campout when I was 12 was a winter campout and I didn’t take as much warm clothes and food as I should have. I got cold and hungry, but I never went on a campout unprepared again.

            One campout per month, plus a week of Scout camp and a week of high adventure is pretty normal for the Scouting program. But if you really feel like your family is being short changed, you can “pull rank” and say, this month we are doing something as a family the weekend of the campout. My mom and step dad did this one year to me and my brother when they had a very uncomfortable feeling about the leaders who were planning a high adventure one year.

            I have an aunt who had 11 kids and to maintain her sanity, she would enjoy sending the boys on a campout, the girls to a slumber party, get a baby sitter for the ones too young, and enjoy a night out my uncle. You point out that 20% of your weekends are taken for Scouting, but that leaves you with 80%.

      4. AvatarGeorge Weight

        Angela, with 8 boys I can understand your plight. Your challenge is greater than most. I think there are a few things that would help. If you as parents and your boys’ leaders don’t know it, your boys do not have to jump through Scouting hoops a second, third, or fourth time to fill scout requirements. If your leaders are wise, they will help you to balance family activities, school assignments and activities, and Priesthood service into the “do” part of the Scout requirements. Things they are learning outside of scouting should count.

        We should be more concerned about what the boy is learning than “jumping through Scout hoops.”

        As to the time away from home, that is intentional. Boys who learn to go out on their own are much better prepared for missionary service and marriage. I understand your concern, but don’t worry too much. It’s one of those short term investments that pay off in the long run.

        I cannot judge your ward leadership, but if they are typical, they live busy lives and may have difficulty keeping up with ongoing training. We need to find improved ways to accomplish that without adding to the burden. I cannot judge you either, but in typical wards, when it comes to training and communication, parents are often left out of the loop. (With the success of some of your boys, I’m guessing you know quite a bit about the program.) We need much better understanding of how the Scout program and priesthood are intended to function together.

        Often, they are run as separate, competitive programs. Bro. Dahlquist’s thoughts clear up much of the misunderstanding. We need to get better training, better parent communication and involvement, better balance with all of our young men’s activities.

        1. AvatarAngela


          What do you mean about not jumping through scouting hoops a second, third and fourth time? My experience has been that they do exactly that. How many times do they have to learn to cook something exactly? The seeming specificity of the requirements misses the point of just having kids who know how to be independent. Another example would be the swimming merit badge. My boys are all on swim teams, but I have never met someone who is willing to accept that experience. My boys are busy kids. I would love to be able to combine things.

          1. AvatarSteve Faber

            I think part of what George is saying is that adult scouting leaders need to trust the boy’s honor. If a boy says he’s done a requirement, then the MB counselor needs to accept it. If the MB requirement says “demonstrate” or “show”, then the boy of course needs to do just that for the MB counselor, and only once, not two+ times. If the adult leader knows a boy is on the swim team, why would he question the boy’s honor about passing off swimming requirements? As George said, stuff the boy learns and does outside of scouting (swim team) should count, and the adult scout leaders need more than just scouting training if they don’t know this.

    2. AvatarTony Cox

      Bob, I think you are spot on. We have had a number of wards in our stake who have decided not to do any camping because neither the youth nor the youth leaders like it. They usually argue that camping and scouting a not their thing, and that they would rather do indoor sports (read, “Basketball”), computer gaming, or work on Duty To God. While all of these things can certainly be added to a scouting program, I’m pretty concerned about what kind of YM we’re raising that have no interest or experience in the outdoors. Not only does nature draw us closer to the Architect of Heaven, but it also teaches us survival skills, self-reliance, and confidence in ourselves and in our skills. Further, as I’ve observed and worked with these wards, I’ve found that their Duty To God programs, etc. are no better — and usually much worse — than the wards which embrace and use scouting as their YM activity program. I’m with Bro. Dahlquist; there may come a time when the Church goes a different direction, but for now, if the Brethren are all in, then I’m all in!

  9. AvatarKendell Bundy

    This is a great man and hero of mine. I love to hear him speak, he is powerful and reminds me of Elder Holland. I remember his “four T’s for a successful Scout leader” and his admonition to Scout leaders using Genesis 44:34, “For how shall I go up to my father, and the lad be not with me”? The world needs more examples like him. Thank you Brother Dahlquist. I hope to see you at the 2017 National Jamboree.

  10. AvatarJonathon

    Thank you so much, Brother Dahlquist, for your insightful and wise words. Thank you for sharing quotes and insights from previous Church leaders on the Scouting program. This was very helpful to me.

  11. AvatarWayne Mangelson

    ​Thank you Charles, for articulating simple but powerful principles.   I fully endorse your explanation and recommendations.    I emphasize one particularly important foundational principle in your writing that to me is key to what we do now as scouters in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.   We do call the principle “following the brethren,” but even more fundamental is our faith in revelation and our recognizing who really directs the affairs of the Church and oversees what the Church does to help young men become men of character, integrity, and spirituality.    Over the years, when I have had frank discussions with leaders in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who did not fully endorse the Church’s partnership with scouting, nearly every one of those leaders ultimately agrees that sustaining scouting in the Church will receive heavenly approval and support because it is the Lord’s way, while half-hearted support or even rejecting this partnership results in the loss of divine help to succeed. Failing to “magnify” the partnership–failing to call leaders with power and commitment, failing to see that leaders are trained, etc., equates to “going out on our own and developing our own program”– without divine help. In conclusion, regarding this long standing and continuing “revelation” to use scouting as the “activity arm” of the priesthood, I quote the words of Jacob to the people of Nephi: “Behold, great and marvelous are the works of the Lord. How unsearchable are the depths of the mysteries of him; and it is impossible that man should find out all his ways. And no man knoweth of his ways save it be revealed unto him; wherefore, brethren, despise not the revelations of God.” (Jacob 4:8, The Book of Mormon.)

  12. AvatarDuane Hunt

    This is heaven sent, in our stake we have units leaders who have left scouting behind and are trying to start there own program, as a member of the Stake Presidency we are teaching this very thing with the intent to help them build a program the the Lord would be proud of, with these inspired throughts will help us greatly to bless the life’s of our young men. So I say thank you so much for your love for the gospel and for scouting we love you and may God bless you.

    Duane Hunt

  13. Susan CheeverSusan Cheever

    As a mother who has spent years teaching my children to sing “Follow the Prophet” and hopefully to do so as well, I appreciate the reminder not to either lag behind or try to get ahead of the Brethren. LeGrand Richards was so wise and so humble. His words have always pointed the way to safety and peace.

  14. AvatarJack Beckman

    What a wonderful explanation of the Church and Scouting. I have tried many times to explain it in these terms to local ward and Stake leaders, but I fall short. This should be published in the Ensign!

    Now. to those who have Church leaders who feel that Scouting isn’t what they want and either leave it or try to do their own program: The Handbook of Instructions does not give you that authority. You are exercising unrighteous dominion over something you have no authority to change or abandon. It is the Stake Presidency who has the assignment to see that Scouting units are chartered and functioning. If they don’t accomplish that task, they are accountable. If local ward leaders don’t fill their callings or try to change or abandon Scouting, they are accountable. Nowhere in any Handbook or counsel from the Brethren is there any authority to change or abandon Scouting as the activity arm of the Aaronic Priesthood. Scouting works when properly administered, which means that the adult Scouter teaches the boys to run their(the boys) program.

  15. AvatarScoutmaster

    This article has some nice points to consider, however, what I see happening on the ground in my council is pretty disturbing to me. I have been a scoutmaster for over three years now and it has been a very frustrating experience. I went through the training, which was kind of “canned”. In fact, a lot of what I see is canned. I have seen plenty of leaders and MB counsellors making up their own conditions for advancement instead of expecting the boys to follow the requirements. In my unit if something needs to get done, the scoutmaster has to do it. That’s me. If I don’t have the idea, sell it to the boys and parents, sell it to the committee and put it all together, it does not happen. The parents of the boys would be more than happy to let me take their sons on camp out after camp out as long as I do it all. As scout amp approached last year our Stake encouraged us to go to a council camp. I essentially lost all support for this idea from the ward because the other YM leaders have personal bias against council camps. I planned the fundraiser. The committee did help with that and the ward members donated generously but I had to organize the whole thing. This fund raiser brought in more money than any other effort in the ward history. The Team advisor “Teachers” completely ignore my communications that a few of his boys were so close to eagle, attending camp would get them very close. I finally went around him and appealed to the parents for help. They were more than willing to send the boys but no one could help me get it done. On the last day before the camp my assistant became unavailable. I panicked and the ward helped me find a return missionary with no experience to take my 9 boys to camp, essentially alone. While at camp I believe the boys had a good experience but as the leader I was constantly in the condescension of the no -LDS troops. One even offered to have his senior patrol leader tell our senior patrol leader how to run the troop! After two plus years spending immense amounts of time helping boys progress through the system by myself and then having this experience has all but killed my enthusiasm. I have appealed directly to the bishopric. I used to attend round table but it became so irrelevant. No one ever reached out to me and asked how they could help. I decided that my time was better spent helping boys than sitting there mindlessly with lifelong scouters who were so used to boring meetings that they never even looked up. When this recent conflict came up with the policy change I lost even more support because parents and leaders want out. I know that my experience is not how things are supposed to be done, but if this is how the unit is going to run then perhaps the boys ought to flounder in their advancement. Perhaps I ought to tend to my own children and teach them the skills that scouting has attempted to teach our YM. Scouting I my neck of the woods is broken, and I will admit; I was hoping that the church would break away. I believe in the power of the principles identified by Scouting. We all need those. After what I have experienced the question keeps ringing through my head, “Do we really need this program to teach these principles?” Perhaps the ideal of scouting still exists in the minds of church leadership generally, by the principles of scouting are suffering from a broken system at home. As you can tell, it’s hard for me to swallow.

    1. AvatarShaneW

      Sorry to hear about your not-uncommon LDS Scouting experience. From what I read of your situation, it’s not Scouting that’s not working–it’s everybody else! Ironically, if you give up now, all those uninspired ward members who’ve failed to sustain you and the boys, will have recruited you to their way of thinking.

      So many LDS Scouting programs struggle, but it doesn’t have to be this way. It reminds me of story. In colonial times, the British Post Master on an island had enthusiastically order and received bicycles for the dozen island boys who delivered mail for him on foot throughout the island. He predicted that these bikes would cut delivery times in half. Instead, delivery times doubled and the boys hated the bikes. When the Post Master asked one of the delivery boys about it, the answer shocked him: “It’s not my fault! Walking all over the island is hard enough–now I have to push this bicycle while I walk.” Fortunately, the Post Master’s young nephew–an excerpt bike rider– was visiting from London. He employed his nephew to give the delivery boys a riding lesson. Unfortunately, only two boys showed up. The rest–angered that an outsider would come in and tell them how to do their jobs–refused to attend the lesson. Eventually, most of the bikes ended up in a pile back behind the post office. Several of the delivery boys dubbed it the “Monument to Stupidity.” And so it was.

      I’ve been a Scoutmaster in two wards for over eight years now. I’m still learning and have had my share of frustrations and challenges. But our troop and program are strong, dynamic and very integrated with the Aaronic Priesthood program. We just returned from Philmont this past Summer and have an exciting 2016 plan in place.

      It wasn’t always this way. When I was first called to be Scoutmaster in my last ward, enthusiasm for the anemic Scouting program was low. Parents didn’t participate and ward leaders didn’t seem to care. Worse yet, the boys–if they came–just wanted to play basketball. Here are a few things that we did that I believe helped change things.

      1. Monthly outings were consistent and high quality. Working through the boys, I made sure that every outing they planned was outstanding. We couldn’t afford a single average experience. With a little research and guidance on my part, our hikes and campouts destinations were always top-tier! On the first hike, only two boys showed up. But the stories they told after that hike enticed other boys to participate. Soon we had every boy in the quorum–even a few inactive boys–attending every hike, campout and backpacking trip. The parents also took note and began to get excited.

      2. We took marketing pictures/video on every outing. These were then used in carefully crafted presentations at Courts of Honor and parent meetings to give them a taste of the awesome things the boys were doing and learning. These were absolutely marketing campaigns, and they worked. Fathers began attending the outings, mothers helped ensure their sons were prepared and ward leaders began to see the possibilities of Scouting.

      3. We got the Young Mens leaders involved. In our case, I suggested to the bishopric that the YM counselors and advisers act as assistant scoutmasters as part of their calling (including getting the necessary training!). And I always attend the quorum meetings and other youth activities. By acting in concert, we created a seamless, unified program and experience for families and Scouts.

      I know every case is somewhat unique, but I hope these ideas help and that you stick with Scouting. At it’s best, it’s a wonderful, life-changing program for young men.

  16. AvatarMike

    Thank you, Charles! As always, on the mark and we know the answer to the question, “who’s on the Lord’s side, who?” You are, always and in all ways!

    I’m thankful for the Scouting program. It was instrumental in my conversion to the Gospel of Jesus Christ! I grew up outside of Utah and had a college roommate who was an Eagle Scout from Southern California. He was a member of the LDS Church, an Eagle Scout and eventually, ended up naming our only after him. As we met in college, I observed and told him that he seemed to be a goal oriented person. He replied with pride, “I ran a marathon at 12 and got my Eagle Scout Award at 13.” As a Scout in my youth, I had reached the rank of First Class before my Elks Club sponsored Troop folded for lack of parental involvement. My college roommate and dear friend modeled LDS precepts and tenets of his faith. He was Brave when he stood up to people of no faith or other faiths and was what every mother hopes her son would grow up to be.

    As I started my career and got re-engaged in Scouting, I noticed through my adult involvement in Scouting that the Mormons were different than other folks. It is noteworthy that they seemed happier than their non-LDS peer BSA volunteers and that started my journey to learn more about the faith and lead to my eventual conversion. I’ve lived all over several Western states and seen variance in Scouting programs sponsored by the Church. I’ve witnessed how Scouting and caring, loving, responsible adult men and women invested their time, treasure and talents in our youth, so they will pick up where we left off when they become adults. Scouting is time tested and research shows adult males who were Scouts as youth for three to five years or more, score significantly higher in surveys about trust, responsibility, care for the environment, dramatically less cheating on tests in college and higher incomes as adults. Harris Poll data shows that adult males with five or more years in Scouting, have twice the annual income as compared to their adult male counterparts with no Scouting tenure.

    The reason Scouting is at times difficult and requires time and commitment, is that it is not easy. There is a reason why the business world places a premium on hiring applicants who have achieved the Rank of Eagle Scout. They typically have a leg up on their non-Scout peers and they have demonstrated they can do hard things, are goal oriented and see things through to completion. Praise God for mothers who sacrifice their time and energy for their son(s) in attempting Eagle Scout Award completion. Yes, it is true that it can take their sons away from home many weekends. Time in meetings benefit youth planning activities and then going on those activities Scouts have planned. Those camping activities are where boys want and need to be tested. Wise Priesthood/Scouting leaders use after activity Reflection discussions to help youth review what they have learned and will do better for their next activity or event. Boys are hard wired to overcome the outdoors (another Method of boy Scouting) and gain a sense of control over nature and themselves. Boys want to be men and be like their adult associated leaders, (another one of the eight methods of Boy Scouting). They start cutting some strings and learn to become independent. It is paramount that they have these experiences and opportunities to grow.

    When Charles Dahlquist was Young Mens General President, he and his counselors/Board, traveled and taught Scouting leaders, the top two reasons why our dear missionaries often come home early from serving Church missions. Those two reasons were that 1) they have not had enough away from home experiences and 2) they had not learned to do hard things. Research shows our youth get those two experiences through Scouting. It is my fervent hope and prayer, that we can all stretch a little more outside our comfort zone, catch the vision our Church leaders have, be trained and renew our commitment to the precepts and tenets of Scouting and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Those precepts and tenets are the same and parallel one another, as Bob Poll, a wise Stake Patriarch in Morgan, Utah explained.

    With a male life expectancy of 79 years in the US, it is pivotal that young males learn to do hard things and have enough away from home experiences from birth to age 18. Our boys are in our homes for about 18 years (+ or -). How we prepare them in these formative years, the away from home experiences Scouting provides and time tested Methods and Aims, sets them up to go and do, achieve and live the lives we hope they can by what we and others have instilled. How we provide them opportunities to be tested and recognized for their efforts in the first 20% of life, deeply impacts the other 80% of their lives when they are out of our homes. And the relationships we form with them through three Church approved programs (Scouting + Aaronic Priesthood Duty to God programs + seminary) in the first 20% of life is a base, for our remaining time with them. Blending these three programs is like blending metals or making an alloy metal. Gold as a metal is soft, but when blended with other metals and alloys, makes them strong. We can build Titanium like young men, following the recipe our prophets and leaders have recommended!

    Thank you, Scouts and Scouters in units sponsored by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, for your example to others not of the LDS faith, like I was in my late 20’s. Through Scouting, many like me come to be curious and exposed to good Latter Day Saints. So again, thanks for modeling the Gospel in your contacts inside and outside of Scouting. It is how I and many others, caught the spirit of Christ and our Heavenly Father and accepted the fullness of the Gospel. Thank you Charles Dahlquist for reminding us Why we do what we do! How we do it and What we do is important, but Why we do Scouting, wins the day for our youth and their spiritual progression. Scouting works this way in all faiths, as I’m reminded of a dear friend who entered the seminary in his Episcopal faith, as a Vicar and pastor of his church in our little hometown.

    In my humble opinion and this is just how I see things, the spirit of Scouting is the spirit of God and it is caught more than taught. Through Scouting it is caught as wood smoke drifts through a campsite and young men, Scouts, wake up on a chilly morning. It is caught when a young man swims a mile for the first time to earn the coveted BSA mile swim patch. It is demonstrated when our Scouts remember what their mothers and Aaronic Priesthood Scout leaders taught them as Scouts, to be Helpful, Friendly, Courteous and Kind to others and Do a Good Turn Daily, the slogan of the Scouts. Scouting is inspired of God as witnessed by BP, or Baden Powell, the founder of the movement. His words are a good stopping point for my comments:

    “The Scout, in his promise, undertakes to do his duty to his king and country only in the second place; his first duty is to God. It is with this idea before us and recognizing that God is the one Father of us all, that we Scouts count ourselves a brotherhood despite the difference among us of country, creed, or class. We realize that in addition to the interests of our particular country, there is a higher mission before us, namely the promotion of the Kingdom of God; That is, the rule of Peace and Goodwill on earth. In the Scouts each form of religion is respected and its active practice encouraged and through the spread of our brotherhood in all countries, we have the opportunity in developing the spirit of mutual good will and understanding.
    “There is no religious “side” of the movement. The whole of it is based on religion, that is, on the realization and service of God.
    “Let us, therefore, in training our Scouts, keep the higher aims in the forefront, not let ourselves get too absorbed in the steps. Don’t let the technical outweigh the moral. Field efficiency, back woodsmanship, camping, hiking, Good Turns, jamboree comradeship are all means, not the end. The end is CHARACTER with a purpose.
    “Our objective in the Scouting movement is to give such help as we can in bringing about God’s Kingdom on earth by including among youth the spirit and the daily practice in their lives of unselfish goodwill and cooperation.”

  17. AvatarDave

    Scouting works when you work it. It also helps when you have support from others around you. As I see it, it is the future of our youth in the balance. We need more caring adults who will spend more time with youth. Todays world has more challenges for our children than ever before. We have to raise the bar for ourselves first if we expect our children to reach adulthood in an position ready to be able to help others not require help from others. Scouting, done right, provides our children with skills that give them an advantage in their future. Will Rogers said “The only problem with scouts is there just isn’t enough of them”, We could also say that Scouting, done right, will exceed any parents expectations. Lets do it Right!

  18. AvatarSteve

    1. Why does the LDS Church continue to give millions and millions of dollars to an organization it knows full well is corrupt and greedy in its usage and allocation of hard-earned donation funds? Why does the LDS Church turn a blind eye to this when it knows the BSA lines its pockets with excessive, runaway compensation packages and financial perks?

    2. Why does the LDS Church continue to support an organization whose new membership policies and standards run contrary to those of its own? Why does the LDS Church instruct its members to walk away when the surrounding environment is not in accordance with gospel teachings, yet is unwilling to do so itself in this case?

    3. Why do we risk placing our youth–young men who will become the future leaders of this Church–in the hands of leaders and mentors who do not live lifestyles that are in accordance with Church teachings or moral standards? The counter explanation that we can still choose/call who we want as Young Men leaders doesn’t explain the willingness to even assume the risk.

    4. Why has the LDS Church, in collaboration with the BSA, covered up so many atrocities that have occurred in the past relative to child abuse? This is documented fact. Why has it chosen a path of cover up and silence over the years? How is that possible?

    1. AvatarShaneW


      As an LDS Scoutmaster, your comments made me sad, as they reflect some of the all-too-common LDS biases regarding homosexuality and Scouting.

      1. In response to your first accusation, what makes you think that the BSA is corrupt? What data do you have to back your accusation? This is, by the way, the very same accusation often leveled by anti-Mormons at LDS general authorities who receive a salary from the church. I have yet to see compelling numbers that would back-up the assertion of greed or corruption in either organization.

      2. In response to your second question–why does the church affiliate with an organization that allows openly gay members–I would respond that the church also allows openly gay individuals to be members in good standing, attend its universities and serve in callings and priesthood positions. True, they can’t act on their sexual desires. But neither can BSA members (youth or adult, gay or straight) as part of any Scouting activity. Moreover, the history of LDS Scouting is sadly not lacking for examples of non-gay predators who abused young boys. The BSA has created a world class youth protection program that the church is now wisely beginning to adopt as its own policy.

      3. In response to your third question–why would the church even risk allowing our youth to interact with gay people–I would again refer you to the BSA’s youth protection program. I’d also ask, “Do you mean like the gay people they already interact with every day?” We may not be OF the world, but let’s stipulate that we are IN the world. And the world is full of good, honest people who don’t always believe and act as we do. The message, “Don’t associate with this person because they’re gay,” will drive our youth away from the church because they recognize that sexual orientation is just one of many, many aspects of a person. And again, if you’re really evaluating “risk” of sexual abuse, look no further than the too-long list of recommend-carrying, heterosexual, priesthood holding LDS predators who have abused Scouts. Google Brad Stowell to get started. Besides, being openly gay is a bad strategy for any predator–it’s like a hunter wearing bells.

      4. As to your accusation of an LDS/BSA conspiracy to cover-up child abuse, I think this is a fair question. And while glaring mistakes have been made in the past, there’s no evidence of conspiracy. Moreover, I see ample evidence that at least the BSA has learned from past mistakes and taken action to ensure that child abuse never happens again. If you haven’t taken the BSA’s online Youth Protection Training, I encourage you to do so. It’s free, excellent, and many other organizations use or imitate it.

      Look, I get that you’re uncomfortable with the gay issue. But let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater here. Scouting is as good an organization as you’ll find in the world and it’s endorsed as the activity arm of the Aaronic Priesthood by LDS general authorities. Let’s follow their lead.

      1. AvatarSteve Faber

        Great responses Shane.

        “It has been my experience that it is wisdom to stay with the Brethren—don’t lag behind them, and don’t try to get ahead of them.”

  19. Pingback: Mac’s Message #72: Four Types of LDS Scouting Programs – Scouting in the OC

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.